A collector’s item from Lee Vaughan proved to be enough for Tranmere to secured a fourth consecutive victory in the National League as they overcame Wrexham in the cross-border derby.
Vaughan struck his goal – with the assistance of a ricochet – just nine minutes in a match that Rovers dominated and could have won by a greater margin.
The early kick-off meant Rovers were at the top of the Vanarama National League table at the final whistle - but it was shortlived as Lincoln City returned to the summit after beating Bromley.
To the surprise of most, top scorer Andy Cook had to settle for a place on the bench while Micky Mellon gave midweek scorer Cole Stockton the nod up front.
Rovers were ahead inside 10 minutes, when a cross from Liam Ridehalgh reached Vaughan on the far side of the penalty area and he was able to swipe a half volley past Dunn and into the net via the post and a hapless defender.
A mistake by Michael Ihiekwe just past the quarter of an hour mark almost let in Ntumba Massanka, but the young defender recovered quickly to force a corner, which Steve McNulty guided away from danger.
Clearly now with a taste for goal, Vaughan cut inside at the other end and bent a shot just wide, as he looked to double his tally for the afternoon.
A deft touch from Stockton then teed-up Vaughan again, but he could not apply enough purchase to his shot, which was gathered by Chris Dunn in the Wrexham goal.
Rovers kept up the pressure as ex-Dragon Jay Harris forced another save out of Dunn from 25 yards, with a fierce drive.
Wrexham were limited to a selection of corners and offered little for the majority of the first half but a shot from Jordan White was blocked by McNulty, before Rob Evans volleyed the rebound just over the bar five minutes before the break.
A cross from Vaughan was stood up at the far post for Jay Harris, but his downward header was just cleared off the line.
The hosts best chance of the match arrived just before the break, when a set piece floated into the Tranmere penalty area eventually fell for White, but he could only steer his right foot shot over the bar.
Backed relentlessly by their supporters, Rovers had a chance to score a second six minutes after the restart on the counter attack, but Stockton’s square ball for Norwood held up on a heavy pitch and Dunn was able to slide out and smother it.
A neat one-two on the edge of the box settled for Norwood, who’s blistering shot was flicked over the bar by Dunn.
Stockton then diverted a header over before Ihiekwe hit the stanchion behind the goal with an acute free kick, as dominant Tranmere pressed relentlessly for another goal.
A short back pass from Mark Carrington let Stockton in round the back, who held the ball up for Ridehalgh but Mekki could only nod his cross off target.
With only a one-goal advantage, Rovers were forced to defend in the closing stages, with Masssanka directing a far post header off target.
As Wrexham chased an equaliser Tranmere continued to be presented with breakaway opportunities but with the sodden pitch proving a major issue, just moving the ball across the field was proving a difficulty.
Late on, Masssanka got round the back of McNulty and squared for substitute Izale McLeod, but he could only scuff his shot and Harris was able to clear.
Rovers saw out the game, earning their third consecutive 1-0 win and fourth on the run in total.
They are now starting to show the momentum of potential champions and have well and truly thrown down the gauntlet to rivals Lincoln City.
Boss Mellon told Globe Sport: “We’re very proud to represent them (the fans). The atmosphere they’ve crated today – before the game as well – has been top draw.
"They were magnificent today and again, rode us home when we needed them.
“It became very frustrating that amount of times we seemed to break on them an the pitch took the momentum away and stopped the ball.
“I think we defended fantastically today. It takes different things to win a game off football and we did enough to get the result today. We came for a victory and we got it.
“We’re all pleased to see Lee getting his goal. To get a wingback in at the far post with a cross from another wingback is obviously very pleasing in an away game at Wrexham.
“We’re really happy. We’ll enjoy the next few days then we’ll come back in on Monday and get ready to go again.
“We tried to exploit the fact that they were going to play very narrow and didn’t have any width to stop us.
“We’re not trying to do anything other than get results. We’re not thinking about anybody else. We’re just going to try and keep winning games, represent the club properly and play in a way that Tranmere should.
“Of course we know what’s a stake, but we’ll make sure we keep a calm head and go out every week and try and win games."
Rovers and Lincoln have the same points tally with 79 apiece; the Imps remain ahead on goal difference.
Tranmere host Sutton Utd at Prenton Park this coming Tuesday, 7.45pm kick-off.
Tranmere Rovers 1 Vaughan (9 mins)
Half time: 0-1
Star Man: Liam Ridehalgh (Tranmere wingback)
Ref rating: Scott Oldham (7/10)
Wrexham (4-4-2): Dunn, Riley, Barry (Smith 87), White (McLeod 63), Carrington, Rutherford (Allen 63), Evans, Penn, Massanka, Shenton, Marx
Subs not used: Jalal, Harry Tranmere (3-4-1-2): Davies, Buxton, McNulty, Ihiekwe, Vaughan, Harris, Hughes, Ridehalgh, C Jennings (Mekki 54), Stockton (Cook 85), Norwood (Mangan 75)
Subs not used: Turner, Collins
Bookings: Wrexham: None. Tranmere: Harris (70)